A new study from Clark University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst of 500 transgender and non-binary undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent alumni, reveals that their on-campus priorities include gender-neutral restrooms, non-discrimination policies that are inclusive of gender identity, and the ability to change one’s name on campus records without legal name change.
What is Needed, What is Valued; Trans Students’ Perspectives on Trans-Inclusive Policies and Practices in Higher Education, published in the Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, gave survey participants 17 topics from which to choose as priorities, and included open-ended questions as well.
While survey respondents cited gender-neutral bathrooms as the most important aspect to ensure a safe and welcoming learning environment, many other LGBTQ-inclusive practices and policies raised by a majority of respondents can help provide a road map to making campuses welcoming to trans and non-binary students. They include:
- Campus non-discrimination policy that includes gender identity and expression
- Officially-recognized LGBTQ campus organizations
- Gender-neutral housing options
- Cultural competency training for staff and faculty
- Use of correct pronouns and chosen names
This study’s findings parallel data gathered recently as part of the HRC Foundation and University of Connecticut’s groundbreaking survey of 12,000 LGBTQ youth aged 13 – 17. The 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report revealed that a majority of transgender youth don’t feel safe using the bathroom at school and are often not called by their chosen names or correct pronouns. These young people will likely seek out colleges that provide a better, more inclusive educational experience.
As higher education institutions compete for the best and brightest, this survey underscores the benefits of creating campuses that are welcoming and affirming of trans students and their identities. And of course, it’s also the right thing to do.